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Periodic Audio Ni (Nickel) Headphone Amplifier Review

"The new Ni from Periodic is a compact little headphone amp, simply plug it in between your source and headphones and let the results speak for themselves."

Periodic Ni (Nickel) Review

Aesthetics and Build Quality:

The Ni is about the size of a 9v battery, and looks very plain. All black but with the company branding in white on it along with white arrows showing the input/output sockets; sitting between these sockets is an LED. On the other end you have a micro-USB for charging, and that is it, no buttons or switches, just a block with sockets on it.

The build quality is superb, it may be made out of polycarbonate, but it sure is well put together. Tolerances are incredibly tight and the housing is very well put together, along with the fact that the 3.5mm sockets are tight and of very high quality. All of this put together makes the Ni a solid little amp that should easily be up to the task of daily use.

Features:

The Ni does not have an on/off switch or volume control, the sockets sense when a source and headphone are connected and power the amp on. Volume is controlled by the source, and the Ni has a fixed gain of 6.5dB. It will supply 150 mW into 50 Ohms, 250 mW into 32 Ohms, and 270 mW into 16 Ohms. This makes it suitable for most headphones that are used for portable use, and some harder to drive models too.

The battery charges from flat to full in only 30 minutes, and you can expect around 9hrs of battery life from a single charge. The input impedance is very high which means it almost totally bypasses the internal amp of your source. The sockets are TRRS so when you are using it with a mobile phone, mic and controls will still pass through to the phone. The Ni is also engineered to be nearly completely RF and noise interference free.

 

Sound:

Well Periodic have put a lot of thought into this tiny little amp, so you would hope the results pay off.

Well rest assured all that work didn’t go to waste, the Ni does exactly what it sets out to do without fault. Phone outputs are usually pretty poor, and this little amp really does bring an improvement, and not just in terms of volume.

 

It goes beyond that and you get a nice quiet background with very low noise, alongside an increased sense of control and responsiveness. Lows sound tighter and more articulate, the midrange sounds better separated and airy, along with effortless extension up top. Of course, a lot of this will depend on the headphones you plug in, but with the Ni you can use a wide range of earphones to headphones and get the same quality performance that a phone simple cannot give on its own.

 

The Ni doesn’t inject a signature of its own, it does not have any additional bells or whistles, it purely amplifies the signal. But it does so in a very clean and precise manner that is perfect for those with low powered sources or poor headphone outputs.

 

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a boost in power, or a step up from your phone’s headphones output, the Ni is the perfect solution for on the go use. With great battery life, quick charging time and excellent sound quality, what’s not to love?

 

Sound:  5/5

Features: 3/5

Build: 4/5

Value: 4/5

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